As Angus leaves Tier 3, we look at what it means for local hospitality businesses now able to serve alcoholic drinks again and open for longer.
The news that Angus has been moved back into Tier 2 of coronavirus restriction levels will be a relief to local hospitality business owners as we approach the normally busy Christmas period.
But for hotels, restaurant and bar owners in Dundee, Fife and Perth & Kinross, there is no festive cheer as they are remaining in Tier 3, casting further doubt over the viability of some businesses, as reflected in our recent focus report.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced earlier that Angus, along with the Inverclyde and Falkirk council areas, will move into Tier 2 from 6pm on Friday.
As a result, hotel, restaurant and bar owners can now serve an alcoholic drink with a substantial meal indoors until 8pm, and alcoholic drinks can also be served outdoors with closing times extended to 10.30pm.
Rob Alcock at the Kinloch Arms Hotel in Carnoustie was delighted when he heard the news of a return to Tier 2 – particularly for his customers who gave him lots of support when open under level two a few weeks ago.
His business has been closed under Tier 3 levels as it wasn’t proving viable to open other than to offer a weekend takeaway service.
“It’s great relief to be honest with you, a great relief, and we are looking forward to seeing customers again and doing something for customers and seeing them being able to spend a little time together. This is what has been missing, they haven’t had anywhere to socially interact with each other,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be a little bit too late for attracting Christmas Day bookings, but what we are going to try and do is to revert back to when we were previously in Tier 2 where we will put our little marquee up outside.
“Our customers really supported us before by coming along and having a drink outside in some pretty horrendous conditions at times and I am sure they will do so again.”
“We will be open”
Food is a big part of the offering at this festive time of year – and Rob says they will be getting into the Christmas spirit.
“I am sure we will doing a quick pre-Christmas menu,” he continued. “It’s going to be a bit ad hoc, it’s not going to be as organised as it normally is, but we will try and make then best of what we have got. I hope we can limp up to Christmas, get through Christmas and get through the New Year.
“We will be open on Friday at 6pm. The place will be fully decorated, it will be prepared. Don’t worry we will be open. Definitely!”
Warning of closures and job losses
Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association warned that many pubs, bars and restaurants still face the threat of permanent closure and the risk of job losses still hangs over the heads of those employed in the sector, even with the current furlough scheme which is in place.
Mr Wilkinson, said: “While this is a step in the right direction and it is excellent news that Angus, Falkirk and Inverclyde can move from level three into level two, it has not gone far enough to help an industry in crisis.
“Many operators even in levels two and three areas have already been forced to close down their businesses as it is simply unviable to operate with the current restrictions on the sale of alcohol, capacity levels and the operating times that are currently in place. The Scottish Government needed to lessen these to give some kind of hope for the industry as we head into our fourth winter period in January.
“December is a crucially important part of the year for our industry for a number of reasons, but even more so this year as operators struggle to save their businesses.
“The licensed hospitality sector has borne the brunt of heavily restrictive measures this year and the opportunity to be open and doing what we do best over Christmas and New Year would have perhaps given a much-needed morale boost for both operators and staff – and help businesses claw back some of the huge financial losses they have incurred in 2020.
“It is obvious that the licensed hospitality sector is being held up as the sacrificial lamb due to the inability to control the spread of the virus in other sectors and in private homes. The Scottish Government must therefore provide proper financial compensation before it’s too late.
“This industry has and will continue to do all that it can to suppress the virus, but it needs financial aid at realistic levels – at least similar to that now available in Wales – if the sector and the staff that it employs are to be here after spring 2021 and be part Scotland’s economic recovery.”
Tier 2 restrictions
Restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars in Angus can now open indoors for the consumption of food and non alcoholic drinks. Alcoholic drinks can only be served with the purchase of a main meal.
The last entry for dining indoors is 7pm and all venues must be closed and all customers off the premises by 8pm.
Outdoors restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars can open outdoors for the consumption of food and alcoholic drinks, with the final entry at 9.30pm and all venues closed and clear of customers by 10.30pm. There is no need to purchase a main meal to drink alcohol outdoors in Tier 2.
When dining or drinking outdoors or indoors, patrons should note that the maximum number of people you can meet in a restaurant, café, pub or bar is six which can be from up to two separate households.
Indoors, table service and the wearing of face-coverings (unless exempt) when not seated by all customers is mandatory in all hospitality venues under level two restrictions.
It is advised that venues use a booking system and monitor those dining indoors. In addition, all customers must provide their contact details for Test and Protect purposes. The information is retained for 21 days with a view to sharing with Test and Protect teams, if required.
Hand sanitiser stations
Hospitality venues must provide additional measures, such as hand sanitiser stations and indoor areas should also be well ventilated.
Signage should also inform patrons of the social distancing measures, whether that be one or two metres.
When enjoying hospitality indoors, people should stay at least two metres apart from people from other households at all time, unless the venue is operating one-metre social distancing with increased hygiene measures.
People are discouraged from visiting multiple hospitality venues on the same day as it can increase the risk of transmission of Covid-19.
Hotels and other accommodation providers can still serve food to guests staying in their premises until 10pm and room service, including alcohol, will operate as normal.